NEWYORK, Mar. 4 -- Mincor Resources Ltd. and Mirabela Nickel Ltd. led gains for Australian miners in trading in Sydney today after nickel, which is used in making steel, rose 3.7 percent in London overnight, the biggest mover among base metals.
Mincor, which supplies BHP Billiton Ltd., closed up 4.5 percent to a two-week high of A$1.64 in Sydney trading. Mirabela gained 4.6 percent to A$2.29. On the London Metal Exchange, nickel for delivery in three months gained $790 to $22,240 a metric ton.
Nickel has risen 20 percent this year, buoyed by a 10.7 percent acceleration in China's fourth-quarter growth, the fastest pace since 2007. Steel demand in the world's most populous country is increasing, with Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., China's biggest publicly traded steelmaker, raising prices for March delivery and Jiangling Motors Corp. today saying its vehicle sales for the first two months of this year doubled.
"Nickel has almost been the forgotten metal in the past six months," said Stan Shamu, a Melbourne-based resources analyst for the Australian Stock Report. "With the market improving in terms of economic growth in China, then you'll find with more demand for steel and you'll get more demand for nickel. That's a big factor for the car industry."
Other Australian nickel miners to gain in Sydney include Minara Resources Ltd., Australia's second-largest producer, which rose 3.4 percent today, and Panoramic Resources Ltd., which gained 8 percent.
Western Areas NL, which today announced it and Finnish joint venture partner Magnus Minerals Ltd. have appointed UBS Australia and Rothschild Australia to find a partner for six exploration projects involving nickel in central Finland, closed up 3.4 percent.
Australia's benchmark stock index, the S&P/ASX 200 Index, rose 0.72 percent to 4,735.7.